A Chicago man claims he was unarmed and posed no threat when police officers shot him from behind after a cookout in the South Chicago neighborhood last year.
Ortiz Glaze, 36, filed a federal lawsuit against the city and several Chicago police officers Tuesday, alleging those officers later planted a silver cellphone with his belongings to justify wounding him in the back of his left arm and back of his left thigh on April 30, 2013.
A spokeswoman for Chicago’s Law Department said she couldn’t comment on the complaint because the city’s attorneys had not read it yet.
Glaze is a father of two, has an associate’s degree in physical education and attended Kennedy-King Community College and LeMoyne-Owen College on athletic scholarships, according to his lawsuit. Russell Ainsworth, one of his lawyers, said Glaze spent three days a week in rehab over five months after the shooting to regain the strength in his arm where his bicep muscle was ripped apart and the bone was shattered.
“Thank God he wasn’t killed,” Ainsworth said.
On April 30, 2013, Glaze manned the grill during a cookout to honor a deceased friend near 88th and South Burley, the lawsuit said. People began arriving around 3 p.m., it said, and a group of police officers arrived in three squad cars around 9 p.m.
The police union said at the time the tactical officers on routine patrol stopped when they passed a group of known gang members there.
The lawsuit contends one of those officers got out of a squad car and fired a gun — possibly as a warning shot. Glaze and other startled people in the crowd ran away, it said.
The officer who fired the warning shot chased Glaze, the lawsuit said, firing at him multiple times. A second officer allegedly fired at him, as well. In all, 10 bullets were fired at Glaze, according to the lawsuit.
Glaze denies in his complaint ever reaching into his waistband or pointing anything at the officers despite their claims that he made threatening movements and held a silver or chrome semi-automatic firearm in his right hand.
“Why would he run from the police?” Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Pat Camden said at the time. “An officer sees that and believes he has a gun. … He’s not going to take a chance that it is a gun.”
But at a press conference Wednesday, Glaze said he had a simple answer for why he would run from the police officer.
“Because he was shooting,” Glaze said.
Glaze was taken to a hospital where his iPhone, a state ID, keys and money were confiscated, according to the lawsuit. He claims a sum of money later turned up missing.
He said police later said a silver cellphone — which was not inventoried among his personal items at the hospital — appeared “without explanation” on a pile of Glaze’s clothing in his hospital room. They argued it could have been the object they saw in his hand, prompting them to shoot, the lawsuit said.
Ainsworth said the phone belonged to Glaze’s brother, who was also arrested.
Glaze said the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Felony Review Unit declined to file felony charges against him despite the urging of the officers who arrested him. He was eventually charged with misdemeanor counts of aggravated assault of the officers, but he was acquitted in March, court records show.
“It’s unjustified,” Glaze said. “You shoot me, no gun or anything? And then you lock me up and treat me like I’m worthless? It was real terrible.”